The Most Depressing Day of The Year
“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer.
And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”-Albert Camus
I once read that a UK travel company calculated that the third Monday in January is the most depressing day of the year. I later learned this particularly depressing day was christened “Blue Monday.” Though I loved the concept and marketing ingenuity, I was saddened by such a predictable name. But alas, this word play originated from the “before times,” when we took for granted how good things had been for the better part of the last 75 years, when we trusted science, logic and ourselves.
Since the pandemic started, the concept of Blue Monday loses its playful, comedic sheen when so many of us have been living through month after month of Blue Tuesdays, Blue Wednesdays, Blue Thursdays, Blue Fridays, Blue Saturdays and Blue Sundays.
So, the pandemic makes the idea of a Blue Monday kind of moot. But it doesn’t mean January is any less dreary and depressing. I was born in January, and have always despised my birthday’s planetary positioning. I have always felt “a man apart.” Like Shakespeare, I want to think there was “great sport taken in my making” nine months prior. Aided by my mother’s fondness for the works of Albert Camus, during my gestation I forged an “invincible summer.”
Within my tiny frame, I found the sunny fortitude needed to breach the surface of reality in the darkest of days and greyest of seasons. When I got older, I discovered that wine also possesses an “invincible summer,” each bottle offering the warmth of the womb and waves of August light. With each sip, I find once again that warmth and fortitude needed to break the surface tension of life and the courage to cope with December’s credit card debt, January’s early afternoon sunsets and winter’s freezing temperatures.
So, what to drink in the doldrums of January? What can you drink on a Blue Monday, that reminds us there are brighter tomorrows to come? Tonight, I’m opening Domaine La Manarine 2018, Côtes du Rhone Rouge. I love wines from the Southern Rhone this time of year. With each glass comforting visions of the region’s sun-drenched landscape spread through the mind. The vibrant, garrigue infused Grenache found in La Manarine’s Côtes du Rhone Rouge bottling radiates the stored heat found in the limestone galets that dominate La Manarine’s strata.
La Manarine was founded in 2001 by Gilles Gasq, and now comprises 33 hectares of organically cultivated vines in the commune of Travaillan, fortuitously located within the Côtes du Rhone village of Plan-de-Dieu. In the glass, the wine is simply yummy. In a region that is often panned for producing overbaked and syrupy wines, La Manarine’s 2018 Cote du Rhone Rouge is quite the opposite. Full to medium bodied, the wine carries the typical 14% plus alcohol content synonymous with its locale, but it doesn’t come off palate fatiguing or overly hot. Instead, the wine tastes like farm-fresh raspberries and wild strawberries left to cool in the shade, and restrained enough that lovely secondary notes of polished leather, wild thyme, ground tea leaves and hints of mint and hot stone emerge from the glass.
Côtes du Rhone wines are simple, warming and pleasing. And this makes me happy. La Manarine’s bottlings always leave me grinning, no matter how Blue things might seem at the moment. After a few glasses, no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger, something better, pushing right back.